DAISY BATEMAN – Mystery Lover – Cheese Enthusiast – Author

Daisy Bateman is also a world-renowned expert in Why You Should Buy That.

In what passes for a normal life, she works in biotech. She lives in Alameda, California, with her husband and a cat, only one of whom wears a tuxedo on a regular basis, and a puppy on a mission to chew the world into tiny pieces.

Murder Goes to Market is my debut, published last year by Seventh Street Books, and was nominated for the Lefty for Best First Novel. Briefly, it’s the story of Claudia Simcoe, an ex-techie who opens an artisan marketplace in a town on the Sonoma coast and subsequently has to deal with the murder of her least-favorite tenant.

What brought you to writing? I was brought to writing by a lifetime of reading and making up my own stories to go with the books I loved. Mystery has always been my favorite genre, and when it came to what I wanted to write, there was no question that there would be a body or two.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? These days, I mostly write at home, at my dining room table. In the Before Times, I did some of that too. Still, most of Murder Goes to Market was written on the ferry between Alameda and South San Francisco, crossing the Bay on my way to work. Sadly, that route has been temporarily discontinued during the pandemic, so I’m left to do my writing without the possibility of seeing a dolphin. (In the absence of potential sea mammals, I’m mostly distracted by the Scylla and Charybdis of Candy Crush and Twitter.)

What are you currently working on? I just sent off the revisions for the second Marketplace book, A Dismal Harvest, which is due to come out next March. (When I hope to finally have an in-person book launch!) At this point, most of the heavy lifting should be done (she said optimistically), and it’s all over but the copy-edits. So I’m taking advantage of the free time to try something new in a standalone mystery. Stay tuned for more!

Has an association membership helped you or your writing? Absolutely—I’ve been a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime for many years. The knowledge I’ve gained and the friends I have made in both organizations have been very important to my writing career. From meeting members of my writing group through the Sisters in Crime mailing list to the current weekly write-ins with the NorCal MWA chapter, the organizations can be vital for bringing a sense of community to what is a very solitary endeavor.

How long did it take you to write your first book? Aside from juvenilia, I wrote my first book as a college undergrad, scribbling longhand in a repurposed binder, sitting on the lawn in front of the faculty club. From that point, until I finished it, I think was three or four years. Then a much shorter time for it to be rejected by every agent I could find who might in a borrowed copy of Jeff Herman’s Guide be appropriate (this was, shall we say, a while ago).

How long to get it published? That first book was never published, and if there is any justice in the world, it never will be. Between that time and Murder Goes to Market, there were three more books, one closed publisher, and a number of years that I would rather not specify. As an author, I would say that my primary characteristic is grim determination.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I work in a style I call “chaotic neutral.” Basically, I should outline, but I’m too lazy to do it well. So I start with an approximate plot, add notes to the end of the manuscript as I write, and then go back and try to make sense of it later. I would not recommend this approach to others.

What kind of research do you do? Cheese research! I’m joking, but not totally. Since artisan foods are at the heart of my books, it’s essential for me to get to know what’s out there and how it’s all made. (And, incidentally, if there’s any part of the process that could provide a good murder weapon!)

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? San Elmo Bay, the town where the Marketplace Mysteries is set, is fictional, but its location on the Sonoma coast is real enough, and I hope that people who are familiar with the area find things about it they recognize.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Always have the next thing in the hopper. Publishing is a rough business, and no matter how confident you are in your current project, there’s always the chance that it’s one you’re going to have to end up shelving. And when that happens, the only thing that makes it easier is to know you have something else up your sleeve.

Where can our readers find you?

Twitter: @daisyj
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daisybatemanauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daisybatemanauthor/
Website: www.daisybateman.com

3 Comments

  1. Michelle Chouinard

    Love the advice! And yes, grim determination is the single most important quality in a writer, I believe. And whatever substance (chocolate, cheese, wine) allows you to bounce back from rejection…;-)

    Reply
  2. Tammy Qualls

    Great interview and great advice, Daisy! I love the advice of having something else up your sleeve.

    Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Excellent writing advice, Daisy. Best of luck with your new one.

    Reply

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MADELINE (M.M.) GORNELL – Prolific Award Winning Author

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell has nine published Literary Mystery novels, some of which have garnered awards, such as Uncle Si’s Secret (PSWA award winner), Death of a Perfect Man, Lies of Convenience (Hollywood Book Festival Honorable Mention), Reticence of Ravens (finalist for Eric Hoffer 2011 fiction Prize, the da Vinci Eye for cover art, and the Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking book), Counsel of Ravens ( London Book Festival Honorary Mention and LA Book Festival Runner-Up), Rhodes The Mojave-Stone (Honorable Mention in the San Francisco Book Festival), Rhodes The Movie-Maker received Honorable Mention in The Great Midwest Book Festival, Rhodes The Caretakers. Her latest, Rhodes Never Forgotten, recently received Honorable Mentions in the LA Book Festival, The San Francisco Book Festival, and The New York Book Festival.

Settings and character uniqueness are her inspiration, and she currently continues to be inspired by the Mojave Desert—its beauty and all the human tales—as she likes to say, “blowing on the Mojave winds…”

Madeline lives with her husband and assorted canines in Newberry Springs on Route 66.

For some, the unknown future is far more interesting than past or present realities. The Mojave Desert, especially along Route 66, offers endless possibilities for exploration into past happenings, experiencing the intensity of the desert environment in the present, and positing unknown futures. And, of course, for creating fanciful fiction spanning all time periods.

Thank you so much, George, for inviting me to your blog! For me, scenery and characters are writing’s “Holy Grail,” and I think I will be answering several of your excellent questions by just talking about setting and characters in terms of my novels.

For sure, settings have inspired all my books. Years ago, we lived in North Bend, WA, at the base of Mt. Si. Thus, the inspiration for Uncle Si’s Secret—my trying to share the magnificent and grandiose Pacific Northwest. And tell a story—and a murder—at the same time. It took many rejections before finally being published. And of course, when it was, I was on cloud nine!

When leaving Puget Sound and before ending up in the Mojave, we looked around several western states from a base in Ridgecrest, California (with two dogs and a cat!) That locale inspired Death of a Perfect Man. One particular street in the town seemed to call to me and plays in several key scenes. Setting had worked its magic again. When finally settling in San Bernardino County, CA, in the high desert, all my other books have been inspired by the “new to me” at the time, and now still awesomeness of the Mojave Desert in my area.

My characters are completely made up (I think!). They are people I would like or be interested in knowing more about—even the villains. And indeed, to your character questions, getting the right name is part of my development process. I’m fond of Welsh names and managed to squeeze “Delyth” into my latest.

For me, characters are the vehicle for a reader to experience my story. Through their eyes—actually all their senses—a reader experiences(I hope) my plot. What they see, the smells, the touches—not just their dialogue and my narrative. I have nattered on in past writings about developing characters, and honestly, I am still challenged by telling my story through their eyes the best I can. For me, writing isn’t an end accomplishment but a continuing process. To your question about aspiring writers, that would most probably be my advice—always challenge yourself to do better. As an aside, I write in 3rd person, and my lead characters are of the opposite sex.

And to answer one more of your excellent questions, my favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and P.D. James.

Finally, I’d like to put in a plug for Public Safety Writers Association. I haven’t been able to attend conferences lately, but PSWA writers are the nicest and most supportive, information-laden and eager to share, group of writers I’ve ever met. My first novel was a prize winner at PSWA, and again put me on cloud nine!

Blog: https://thewritersinresidence.com/

Email: mmgornell@earthlink.net

14 Comments

  1. Lynn

    I’m looking forward reading one of your books.

    Reply
  2. Gayle Bartos-Pool

    What a profound statement you made about your characters being the vehicles with which you take your readers on the journey through your books. You do that so well along with painting those vivid landscapes through which you also transport us readers. I always enjoy the trip.

    Reply
  3. Gayle Bartos-Pool

    Your comment about your characters being the vehicles through which the reader experiences the story was profound. But that is how your stories carry us along. And of course your scenery comes alive in every one of your books. A great inter.

    Reply
  4. Evelyn Cullet

    Informative post, Madeline. I had no idea you lived in so many different places. I love to spend time with the characters in your novels, and the settings always take me away to places I would never have thought to visit. Looking forward to reading your next novel.

    Reply
  5. John Schembra

    Nice blog post, Maddie. You are one of the good guys- a great writer, and a truly nice person! Hope to see you at the 2022 PSWA conference!

    Reply
    • Madeline Gornell

      Haven’t seen you in ages, thank goodness for FB. Looking forward to see you down the road. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, means a lot to me.

      Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Maddie is one of my favorite people and is also a fabulous writer. I loved Counsel of Ravens and highly recommend her books. I’m hoping to see her again at the next conference. Until then, take care and write on!

    Reply
    • Madeline Gornell

      Thanks for your kind words, Mike, and your kind thoughts are reciprocal! I sure hope to make a conference pretty soon. Funny thing, my ravens don’t come around that much any more. Owls, I think? So glad you stopped by.

      Reply
  7. Mar Preston

    I like Madeline’s books. She could almost lure me into liking the Mojave.

    Reply
    • Madeline Gornell

      Hi Mar, it’s been along time since we were both at a PSWA conference, but I still remember you, and your kindnesses to me well! Thank you for stopping by. This Mojave desert is sometimes quite a challenge–especially like this summer with 100+ weather every flinging day! But I’ve definitely come to appreciate the beauty out here…and for me personally, the isolation. I’ve always guessed I was a hermit…but now I know it! Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Reply
  8. Marilyn Meredith

    Loved this. Madeline is another good friend of mine. We’ve been to several conferences and conventions together and were roommates at one. I’m a fan of her books–especially those about the Mojave. Not my favorite place in California, but when she writes about it, it becomes magical.

    Reply
    • Madeline Gornell

      Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn, and your kind words. Oh, I remember our conference and convention adventure, so well. Fond memories I’ll keep forever–especially staying up late and gabbing and laughing. And yes, this desert living isn’t for everyone, and it still surprises me I like it here! You never know…

      Reply
  9. Madeline Gornell

    Good morning, George, and I’m honored to be here! Thanks so much for the invite

    Reply

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MARK EDWARD LANGLEY – Western Mystery Author

The title of his latest release is When Silence Screams.

Mark Edward Langley is an award-winning author of the Arthur Nakai Mystery Series, including Death Waits in the Dark which won both as a finalist in the American Book Fest Awards in 2020 and winning the coveted Feathered Quill Book Award for best mystery of 2021. He is currently writing his fourth novel of the series, Broken Glass, due out August 2022. He and his wife, Barbara, divide their time between the home in Indiana and New Mexico.

Award-winning author James Wade had this to say about it: “Langley’s third installment of his Arthur Nakai Mysteries is the most thrilling yet. The characters are fully formed, and the danger is real and urgent. Langley has an unmatched feel for his New Mexico setting, both the landscape and the culture. A master of dialogue, Langley lets the banter flow freely and allows the mystery to drive the story from the opening pages to its heart-pounding conclusion. There’s not a better detective writer in the American West.”

And these best-selling authors had this praise for my Arthur Nakai series: Anne Hillerman said this: Death Waits in the Dark tells a gritty story of betrayal, deceit, and danger through the eyes of Navajo protagonist Arthur Nakai. The tightly written noir plot moves from scene to scene like a thriller, building suspense on every page.

William Kent Kreuger said this: With Death Waits in the Dark, Mark Edward Langley offers readers an utterly compelling portrait of human beings struggling to deal with the aftermath of great trauma. Langley writes about the great Southwest with a loving eye for detail that fans of Tony and Anne Hillerman will readily embrace. I was utterly captured by this fine second novel in the Arthur Nakai series. Along with those who are already fans, I can only hope that there will be many more stories to come. I recommend this book with a full heart.

Craig Johnson said this: “Combining the gait of a fine horse, the comfort of your favorite Indian blanket, and the ease of a well-worn saddle, Mark Edward Langley’s Path of the Dead is one heck of a debut novel!”

Do you write in more than one genre? I only write in the mystery genre. I have always loved reading them and watching them because I am always intrigued and try to figure them out. The best ones are the ones that surprise me!

What brought you to writing? I fell in love with it when I began reading the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker. Then, when I discovered Tony Hillerman, I kept telling myself, “you can do this! You need to do this! You have stories to tell!”

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in my office. It gives me the privacy I need, and I am surrounded by inspiration. Plus, I have an extensive cd library and often play Native American flute music … and the occasional Pink Floyd album to help my mood.

Tell us about your writing process: My process consists of coming up with a title and composing a story around it. Then I do what seems to be reams of research, categorize it into a manageable pile, create new characters and begin mapping out each chapter. For the next book–Broken Glass–I contacted the Navajo Nation, Albuquerque, and Phoenix police departments and obtained closed case files concerning the main crux of the story my protagonist Arthur Nakai will move through. It’s wonderful to see how police procedures move things along in an organized fashion.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Hands down–the research. Sometimes it is daunting, but it is always worth it. Even if I search out one fact for one sentence, it makes the story that much more authentic.

What are you currently working on? I am three chapters into Broken Glass (book four) and recently had an idea based on a title (Midnight Harvest) for book five and wrote the first chapter of that. I have also begun creating another series set in another part of New Mexico featuring another wonderful character. When it comes to fruition, I will let my Members Only subscribers of my website know first.

Has an association membership helped you or your writing? I belong to four associations, but the most help I have received has come from Western Writers of America. ITW has done very well helping to promote my work, and I look forward to a long relationship with them all.

Who’s your favorite author? I would have to say it is Robert B. Parker. Spenser is a wonderfully written character. I loved his books from the moment I picked up my first copy. Working in a bookstore at the time gave me a wide array of authors to choose from–including Tony Hillerman, Mickey Spillane, and John D. MacDonald (whom I share a birth date with–July 24th.)

How long did it take you to write your first book? I heard someone say once that “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.” That is absolutely true. Path of the Dead took 20 years before it saw the light of day. Once I retired at the end of 2016, I focused on my writing. I think it’s worked out pretty well.

How long to get it published? I was lucky. I first got an agent. He submitted my manuscript to six publishers, and in two weeks, I had a two-book deal.
How do you come up with character names? I keep a list of Navajo and other names to choose from. I also have several other pathways and often combine first and last names to create a character.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave, or do they run the show? I would say that they run the show. No matter how I map out a chapter, my characters seem to have their own minds and their own will, especially during dialogue scenes. They have lives, they have ideals, they have thoughts that lead me off my pre-written trail and down a new, unseen path.

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Well, I use a lot of personal experience and do a lot of research as well. You have to find a way into their minds. In my case, it’s Arthur’s wife Sharon and her thoughts on pregnancy, depression, and PTSD, all things I have no experience with.

Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? No. They do not. They always amaze me with their individuality and loyalty.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Yes, I have subplots. Often they are little stories inside the main story that gives the reader an authentic feel of the area. In book three, When Silence Screams, the two subplots have a more prevalent connection.
How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? By making something unexpected happen. Because fiction, like life, moves forward when conflict occurs.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? Stephen King. I just can’t read him. My wife can, but I just can’t get into him. I love watching films based on his work–my favorite being The Dark Half.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? Like most writers, I pull from friends, school buddies, and the like. And sometimes, it’s a conglomeration of several people.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I outline. I like to know where I’m going and how I’m getting there.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? 98% of the locations in my novels are real. I have driven the hard packed dirt roads, the open highways and visited the small towns and places I write about. I feel I have to do that in order to give the reader an authentic experience so they can feel and smell and taste and see everything that New Mexico and the Navajo Reservation holds.

What is the best book you ever read? Robert B. Parker’s Crimson Joy and Finding Rachel Wallace. I actually read both twice.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Hopefully, my dream will continue to come true, and I can enjoy writing and make a good living at it. I figure I have maybe 15 to 20 years left to be creative and want to enjoy those years with my wife with what success will offer me.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Never let go of YOUR dream. No one else will ever understand because it is not THEIR dream. They may find every reason they can to dismiss you and alter your mindset and resolve, but don’t let them. YOU have the vision … don’t give them the power to change it.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? If anyone wants to learn more about me and my books, they can visit markedwardlangley.com and join Members Only for exclusive content access. From my website, you can navigate to all my social media pages, watch book trailers, listen to my podcast and radio interviews, and much more!
https://www.facebook.com/ArthurNakaiShadowWolf
https://www.instagram.com/markedwardlangley/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-edward-langley-68443219/
https://markedwardlangley.com/

5 Comments

  1. Marilyn Meredith

    Sounds like I better get started reading this series.

    Reply
  2. Madeline Gornell

    Great interview, and love the advice, “Never let go of your dread!”

    Reply
  3. Joseph Bryce HAGGERTY Sr

    Hopefully Mark you can confirm whether I bought a signed copy of WHEN SILENCE SCREAMS. I know that may sound strange, but I knew the minute I saw the story line that I wanted that book. You have accomplished so much and I only hope I can too. This was a great interview and I hope you can make next years conference PSWA.

    Reply
  4. Michael A, Black

    Mark’s a good friend and an excellent writer. If you haven’t checked out his Arthur Nakai series, do yourself a favor and grab one. You won’t regret it. Best of luck to you, Mark. Keep it going.

    Reply
  5. Danny R. Smith

    Great interview. Congratulations, Mark. Those are some heavyweight endorsements too!

    Reply

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MARGARET MIZUSHIMA – Award Winning and Internationally Recognized Author

Margaret Mizushima writes the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. She serves as president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected the 2019 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband, where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

Margaret’s the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, are police procedurals set in a small town in the Colorado high country. Married forty years to a veterinarian, Margaret enjoys setting up puzzling crimes for her protagonists to investigate—Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Together these three heroes battle murder and mayhem in the fictional town of Timber Creek, Colorado.

Margaret’s seventh book in the series is now available. In Striking Range, the past and present collide when Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are torn between investigating her father’s cold case and the death of a young mother whose body is found near Timber Creek. As a deadly storm batters the area, taking its toll on the investigative team, Mattie and Robo search for the woman’s missing infant, hoping to find the baby before it’s too late. But Mattie soon realizes that a killer, who may be the mastermind behind it all, is within their midst, ready to strike again.

What brought you to writing?  It seems like I wanted to write and publish a book for most of my life, but I needed to help my husband earn a living and raise our two daughters first. As soon as I retired from my first career as a speech pathologist, I began studying the art and craft of novel writing. I wrote several books before trying my hand at mystery writing. My first book in the series, Killing Trail, was picked up by Crooked Lane Books (New York) and released in 2015. We’ve been launching a new book together every year since.

Where do you write? Tell us about your writing process.  After my daughters moved away from home, I converted an upstairs bedroom into my office. I’m a great believer in having one’s own writing space. When I’m writing the first draft of a new book, I try to go upstairs and get started by 8:00 a.m. each morning. I scan my email, answer any that need immediate attention, and then switch from business mode to creative.

I usually light a candle and set a timer for forty-five minutes. During that time, I let nothing interrupt me. (Distractions in the form of social media and phone calls are all around, but unless from family, I do my best to ignore them.) After forty-five minutes, I take a break for fifteen, get up and stretch, answer any messages I need to, and then sit back down for another forty-five-minute stretch. Called the Pomodora Method, these short sprints of giving full concentration to a task help hold my attention best. Unless I have an appointment or something scheduled, I keep up these cycles until I’ve reached 1000 words. Using this method, I can usually write the first draft of a book in about four months. Then I revise several times before sending it to my editor.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Figuring out the plot. In every episode, I need to weave in my character arcs, a homicide or two, a social issue that I want to spotlight, work that my veterinarian character has to do that helps solve the crime, work that my K-9 character Robo has to do to turn up clues and work that my K-9 handler Mattie has to do. I love developing the premise of each book, choosing the theme, and working out the series arcs for my characters. It’s the nitty-gritty details of the puzzle, the clues, and the red herrings that are hard to wrestle into submission.

We hear about strong-willed characters. Do yours behave, or do they run the show? I think having characters strike off on their own is part of the challenge, but it’s also part of the fun. When one of my characters takes off in a direction I didn’t plan, I have to pause and ask if this direction will serve my overall plot or is it going to lead me to a dead end. Sometimes I’m surprised when a character finds a clue I didn’t know was there. For example, in the second episode in the series, Stalking Ground, the detective and Mattie find the victim’s diary under the passenger seat of her car. I had no plan for that and was as surprised as they were. But what a happy turn it took in the story, and what a wonderful vehicle for giving my investigative team more evidence to work with!

How do you come up with character names? I give my series a western flavor, and so I tried to come up with names that are more common here in the west. I actually listen to the names of participants in rodeos and keep a running list. Cole Walker, the veterinarian in the book, has a name that resonates with the west. Mattie, my K-9 handler, was the name of one of my classmates. (We attended school in a small town in Colorado.) And the dog’s name, Robo? His was inspired by an actual K-9 partner that one of my consultants had when she worked in law enforcement in Bellingham, WA. Her Robo was a wonder dog, just like the Robo in my books. He could do it all, from tracking a fugitive or a missing person to finding narcotics or gunpowder to finding evidence after a crime. The stories I heard about the real Robo inspired the skillset that my fictional Robo demonstrates in every book.

What are you working on next? I’m working on the eighth book in the series, as yet unnamed. It will launch in the spring of 2023. I invite readers to get to know Mattie, Robo, and Cole—each mystery stands alone, but if you want the full effect of the character’s stories, start with Killing Trail.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today, George. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my writing process and the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries.

You can find Margaret at:

Website: https://margaretmizushima.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretMizushima
Twitter: https://twitter.com/margmizu
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/margmizu/

11 Comments

  1. Madeline Gornell

    Great meeting you. Margaret! I’m unfamiliar with your series, but now very interested. Much success! I need some of your discipline(smile)

    Reply
  2. John Schembra

    Sounds like an interesting series. I will give it a try! You have a very disciplined writing process. Mine’s more chaotic. Congrats on you writing success!

    Reply
    • Margaret Mizushima

      Thanks for checking in with us today, John, and thanks also for giving my books a try. I hope you like them. I have to be disciplined to get anything finished! But right now, my life is so chaotic that I’m having trouble getting started on book eight. Must put my nose to the grindstone soon. Take care and hope all is well with you and your writing process!

      Reply
  3. Donnell Ann Bell

    Love this author, George. thank you for spotlighting her. Interesting processes, Margaret. Can’t wait to read your latest!

    Reply
    • Margaret Mizushima

      Thanks, Donnell! So nice of you to stop by, and thanks for reading the books!

      Reply
  4. Michael A. Black

    This sounds like a fascinating series. Your disciplined approach is obviously serving you well. Best of luck to you with your writing. I’m looking forward to checking out your books.

    Reply
    • Margaret Mizushima

      Thanks so much for your comment, Michael. I’m afraid I have to be disciplined or I will never get things done. 🙂 I hope you enjoy the books. Take care and happy reading!

      Reply
  5. vicki batman

    So nice to get to know you and your books.

    Reply
    • Margaret Mizushima

      Vicki, thanks so much for visiting George’s blog today. I appreciate your comment and hope you’re finding time to read this summer. It’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner! Take care.

      Reply
  6. Rhonda Blackhurst

    Congratulations Margaret! It’s such an awesome series with fantastic characters!

    Reply
    • Margaret Mizushima

      Thanks so much, Rhonda! I appreciate you and your support so much! Hope to see you at SinC-Colorado book club this Saturday to hear you talk about your book, Abby’s Redemption. Hugs!

      Reply

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ZARA LATAIR – Announces the Argolicus Mysteries 4-Book Collection

Hi George and Readers, It’s a pleasure to be back. I’m excited to announce the first four Argolicus Mysteries are now available in a collection, Argolicus Series Books 1-4.

The stories are traditional mysteries with late Roman Italy as the backdrop. History changes, but people remain the same. That’s what I find is fun about writing historical mysteries.

The Roman Heir: Argolicus begins a journey home to retire from politics. As a personal favor, he delivers a book to a young scholar. But the young man’s father is murdered hours before, and Argolicus is tasked to find the killer among the patricians in an unfamiliar town where he knows no one.

The Used Virgin: The governor holds a family friend prisoner. When Argolicus visits to investigate, he unearths a greedy plot to tarnish a good man’s name. To expose the plot, he must challenge the governor’s venal power to reveal a scheme.

The Vellum Scribe: When Argolicus’ uncle finds a dead body, it starts a chain of treacherous alliances based on greed and envy based on old friendships. But then an ambush attack produces a clue.

The Peach Widow: A simple request from his mother sends Argolicus to settle a legal question in a family at odds. Perplexed by subterfuge and greed motivating each family member, he finds no clues until the farm dog starts to play.

What readers are saying:

  • A story well told. A ‘world’ worth settling into!’
  • ‘Transport you to that ancient time, so you can meet their people and see their lives.’
  • ‘Absolutely wonderful.’
  • ‘A rich tapestry of interactions that serve to draw the reader deeper in..’
  • ‘Highlights some of the most basic of emotions: anger, possession, hurt, sympathy, loss and guilt and, of course, greed..’
  • ‘No telephones, no computers, no scientific method as we understand it, no mysterious villains with international organizations – and it works. .’
  • ‘If I had to put stars for this book, I have had to put six stars!’
  • ‘A thoughtful atmospheric pierce with wonderful characters.’
  • ‘For mystery lovers with a love of history.’
  • ‘Packs not only a great mystery but also a lot of truly interesting information about the era.’
  • ‘A world with very different rules for dealing with murder.’

I started writing these stories when I was researching for a longer book. One of the letters in Cassiodorus’ Variable, he wrote as Prime Minister for King Theodoric, mentions a strange punishment. Scholars wondered what could cause such a puzzling punishment that wasn’t much of a punishment.

I thought, Who better to put this mystery to rest than our hero, Argolicus. And, so, The Used Virgin came to life. It’s the only mystery in the series with no murder but an attempt to kill a man’s reputation.

Argolicus was a real person at the time of Theodoric’s reign in Italy. He is mentioned nine times in Cassiodorus’ Variae as praefectus urbis of Rome.

Argolicus is a learned man who turns detective at the bidding of friends and neighbors who know him as trustworthy, wise, and fair. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the self-restraint of Epictetus, the theology of Arius, and the empirical insights of Marcus Aurelius, all sharpened to an edge by ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers politics, and digs into the deepest secrets of the human heart.

Zara Altair writes traditional mysteries set in Ostrogoth, Italy. Meet Argolicus, the Roman patrician who thinks his way to finding a killer. The Argolicus Mysteries are The Roman Heir, The Used Virgin, The Peach Widow, and The Vellum Scribe.

The Grain Merchant, the fifth in the series, was recently released.

A mystery lover since childhood, she writes about writing for several publications, including ProWritingAid and International Thriller Writer. A member of Sisters in Crime., Zara lives in Beaverton, OR, where she reads, walks among trees, and shares space with a cat. She coaches mystery writers at Write A Killer Mystery. Find her video tutorials on YouTube.

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Author: Argolicus Mysteries

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2 Comments

  1. Thonie Hevron

    These books sound fascinating, not only for the mysteries but the setting and historical era. Looking forward to reading them.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you really did a lot of research on that period. One of the challenges I’ve found in writing historicals is how difficult it is to come up with appropriate metaphors and smiles that fit the era. Best of luck with Argolicus’s further adventures.

    Reply

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SANDY SHEEHY – Scuba Diver – Fiction & Non-Fiction Author

 

Although Sandy Sheehy was born in New York, after graduating from Vassar, she moved to Austin and lived there, then in Houston, Galveston and Albuquerque. She now divides her time between Texas and New Mexico. Sheehy and her husband, historian and University of New Mexico professor emeritus Charles McClelland, spend several months a year traveling internationally.

Sheehy has written frequently on human relationships and the natural environment. Her work has appeared in Town & CountryForbesHouse BeautifulSelfWorking Woman, and Money, among other national magazines. She is the author of Texas Big Rich (1990, William Morrow), a group portrait of the state’s financially fortunate, and Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendship (2000, HarperCollins).

Sandy’s first novel, Deserts of the Heart, is a multicultural historical romance set in 1798 near Santa Fe (June 2021, White Bird Publications).

I have another book out this year: Imperiled Reef: The Fascinating, Fragile Life of a Caribbean Wonder, October 5 from the University of Florida Press, grew out of her love of scuba diving. “Drifting weightless above a coral head is the closest those of us alive today will ever come to visiting another planet,” she explains. This nonfiction book describes the natural history and ecology of the world’s second-longest barrier reef.

Do you write in more than one genre? Yes. My previously published books have been nonfiction.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in the room my husband calls the “study.” It sounds small, but it’s the largest room in our 1940-vintage house, and it has a view of the Sandia Mountains.

Tell us about your writing process: I find I work best if I keep regular hours, getting up around 7:00 a.m., dressing, having breakfast, dealing with my email, and then writing for a couple of hours. I use the Authors Guild discussion posts as a warmup. Six days a week, I head for the pool at my health club and swim between three-quarters of a mile and a mile. On the seventh day, I meet with the other three members of my writers’ group. A couple of days ahead of time, we circulate whatever we’ve written that week so that we can discuss each other’s work at the meeting.

What are you currently working on? I’m writing a sequel to Deserts of the Heart. Set two years later (1800) in the same location, this one is a romantic murder mystery

Has an association membership helped you or your writing? You’re helping me right now, George. Fellow member Rosina Lippi (aka Sara Donati) has also been helpful. But everyone who’s actively involved in those AG discussions has taught me something.

How long did it take you to write your first book? It took me a year to research and another six months or so to write. Part of that process involved writing a proposal since it was nonfiction and my agent was shopping it.

Do you ever kill a popular character? If so, what happens to your story? I’m killing one right now. As a fan of murder mysteries, I prefer the ones where the reader has a chance to get to know and like the victim before he or she is killed. Doing so makes solving the mystery more than just an intellectual exercise.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Whether I’m writing nonfiction or fiction, I always outline. I need to know where I’m going. Sometimes characters do step forward and take over the road along the way.

What kind of research do you do? For Deserts of the Heart, I visited the 18th century living history museum Rancho de las Golondrinas, “New Mexico’s Williamsburg,” the Pueblo Cultural Center, and several museums in the region. I also relied heavily on Internet sources, especially for details like clothing. For anyone who writes historical fiction, portraits posted online can be amazingly helpful.

Readers are welcome to check out my website, www.sandysheehy.com. I’d like to encourage anyone who wants to purchase my books to visit their local independent bookstore. Ordering online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble is convenient, of course, but those local shops need our support.

3 Comments

  1. Marilyn Meredith

    Fascinating! Interested in the research you’ve done.

    Reply
  2. Madeline Gornell

    Great meeting you, Sandy! What an interesting life you are leading. Continued success!

    Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Good luck with your writing. It sounds like you’ve a very resourceful and dedicated writer.

    Reply

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